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Architecture Board Opposes New Courthouse Entrance

New building on East Main Street has planned corner entrance; Kent Planning Commission will review project Aug. 21

Kent's Architectural Review Board issued a certificate of appropriateness Tuesday for Kent's new courthouse — but with opposition to the building's main entrance.

Members of the ARB voted 3-1 to issue the certificate and recommend the Kent Planning Commission approve the project plans at its Aug. 21 meeting.

But the ARB suggested the commission approve the site plan and building design with the main entrance in the center, front of the new courthouse rather than at the southeast corner as planned.

"I think it's important that building have a front presence," ARB member Allan Orashan said.

Portage County Commissioners and judges agreed late last month to make some changes the architecture board recommended in mid July, such as fewer parking spaces, but county officials were adamant about keeping the corner entrance.

Architect Allan Renzi of Richard L. Bowen & Associates in Cleveland, the firm designing the building, told members of the ARB Tuesday that two of the new buildings under construction in downtown Kent — referring to the and buildings — have prominent corner entrances.

"So there is some precedence in the area," Renzi said.

Kent architect Doug Fuller, a member of the ARB, pointed out those two buildings sit on corner lots at street intersections.

"Not in the middle of a block," he said.

The new courthouse will stand on the largely vacant lot at 303 E. Main St. The two-story building will be more than 20,000 square feet with 109 parking spaces.

Kent’s zoning board voted last month to grant the project a variance to reduce the number of parking spots from the 144 required by code to 132. Now the project will need to go before the zoning board again to get approval for the 109 spaces.

Renzi said they reduced the parking, at the ARB's request, and also changed the site plan to move the new courthouse further back from East Main Street so it sits more in line with its next-door neighbors, the and salon buildings.

He said the changes made at the ARB's recommendation didn't lead to any changes to the building's internal floor plan.

Laurel Myers Hurst August 08, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Agree 100%. The building looks like a CVS/Walgreens with the corner entrance!
Wade August 08, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Ellsworth Toohey on the Kent Architectural Review Board? The designing firm has given multiple good reasons for the corner entrance, all of which seem logical and good design.
Alan Phillips August 08, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Leave it as designed. A corner entrance will not adversely affect the appearance or the function of the building.
Tom August 08, 2012 at 10:04 PM
The corner entrance does look a little like Walgreens but they made a good point that functionally it's much easier to reach from the parking lot. If the entry is moved to the middle, it will become a largely symbolic entrance that few will use. I would imagine that they'll have to put in an additional entry (creating security concerns) nearer to parking, especially for handicapped. Also, I find it hard to believe that they can move the entrance from the corner to the middle and it wouldn't affect the floor plans as this article suggests. How's that possible??
h August 08, 2012 at 11:56 PM
I like the corner entrance! Looks like the Goodyear bank in akron. Why should everything be square and straight?!
Matt Fredmonsky August 10, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Tom, that's exactly what the architect said. Moving the entryway would not effect the floor plans. The front of the building is largely hallway space on both floors, according to the plans I saw.

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